THE NUMBERS of Wiganers who could qualify for costly weight-loss surgery is set to increase dramatically despite the concerns of health chiefs.
Last month it was revealed that 23 people in the borough were referred for bariatric surgery last year at an estimated cost to the local NHS budget of approximately £175,000.
Wigan NHS bosses said that while it was costly the numbers of people who were referred were minimal and they preferred to diagnose weight-loss lifestyle changes instead.
Now it has been revealed that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have said NHS should triple the number of weight-loss surgeries it carries out every year to help tackle the “immense problem” of obesity and reduce the £10bn cost of caring for patients with diabetes.
It means that hundreds more Wiganers could qualify for operations such as gastric bands and gastric bypasses in the near future.
Surgery should now be considered for anyone with a body mass index (BMI) score above 30 who have been recently diagnosed with diabetes or another weight-related illness, Nice said.
Experts said it was “extremely fanciful” to expect that all two million people would be given the operation, which costs the NHS £6,000 in up-front and follow-up costs, but the plan marks a major change in the NHS’ approach to the often controversial operations.
Dr Tim Dalton, chair of Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Bariatric surgery is a last resort only for people who are dangerously obese and carrying excess body fat.
“A better option is to use the Lose Weight Feel Great service from Wigan Council.”